Bully-Proofing Your Child
How to bully-proof your child
Bully-Proof Your Child
They lurk in neighborhoods, classrooms, on the playground and in locker rooms. They come in all shapes, sizes and both genders. There is one thing, however, bullies all have in common. They have an insatiable desire to humiliate or harass anyone they perceive as weaker than themselves.
How to bully-proof your child
Make sure your child has a healthy sense of self-worth, which helps build self-confidence. Children with little self-confidence send out silent signals that can attract bullies. Some of these include poor posture—the head or chin is down, the shoulders are slumped and they shuffle along as if they have no particular destination in mind.
Teach your child how to appear confident. Demonstrate how to walk with the head up, eyes alert and shoulders straight.
Practice letting the legs stride naturally as opposed to shuffling or walking stiffly. Not everyone with poor posture lacks confidence. Bullies, however, interpret slumped shoulders and shuffling feet as easy targets.
Give your child three powerful gifts: your acceptance, affection and affirmation. This helps him or her feel more comfortable in his or her own skin, so to speak. Knowing he or she is loved and is an important part of the family unit is extremely vital to a child. Knowing he or she can contribute in some way gives him or her confidence. Without this, he or she will lack roots to stand on or wings to fly with when faced with tough situations.
How to shape a bully-proof shield
Love your child. A parent’s unconditional love is a child’s safety net. If everyone else seems to be down on them, they still have you. Unconditional love has nothing at all to do with how your child performs. It has everything to do with who your child is—your flesh and blood.
Listen to your child. The chatter of young children sometimes seems trivial, but it gives the attentive parent an inside glimpse into their hearts. When your son or daughter discusses school, friends and events, listen up. This tells them you are interested in what is important to them. Maintain eye contact with your child when he or she is talking. By doing so, you are saying, “You are worth my time and attention.”
Let your child dream. Because you are older and have experienced more in life, you may understand that some of his or her goals and dreams are feasible and some are not. Resist the temptation to dash their dreams. Show genuine interest in what is important to your son or daughter. If you make light of a child’s dreams, you discourage him or her from opening up to you in the future.
Discover more ways to bully-proof your child. If your child is smaller than average for his or her age, it’s especially important to bully-proof him or her. Remind the child that being shorter or smaller isn’t always a problem. A small person can often dodge quicker, duck lower and run faster if he or she is in good shape. Spend time in activities that build muscle strength and agility.
Tossing a ball, shooting baskets, running, bicycling, swimming—all of these build muscle. You can also enroll your child in a martial arts class, or any similar activity that helps build up some bully-proof confidence.
Help your child find or develop a “specialty.” Being well-educated and skilled in one particular area builds self-confidence. If your child is fascinated with planes, encourage and support this hobby. Hang out at airports occasionally, arrange an interview with a pilot, visit the traffic control tower if possible and buy lots of books about planes.
Becoming an expert on a certain topic gives your child a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Knowledge is a powerful confidence builder.
See that your child eats healthy meals for optimum health. Too much junk food and not enough veggies or protein will hinder growth. Try to focus on family time at the supper table. Talk about your day and ask your children for ideas on how to solve a problem or situation you face at work. No matter what suggestions they make, thank them for their input. This affirms that their contributions are valuable, too.
Ask about your child’s school day, his or her friends, and his or her favorite activities. Listen with your heart and pay attention to any subtle distress signals. If the child is picking at his or her food, he or she may have faced a situation at school that can’t be handled alone. If he or she is normally cheerful but seems depressed or out of sorts, tune in very carefully. Being there for your son or daughter helps him or her feel more secure. Make a date for an evening treat on the front porch or at a local restaurant. Some quality parent-child time may help him or her open up and share what’s on his or her mind.
Talk with each of your other children privately and stress the importance of their support and encouragement for their siblings. Play-act situations and discuss how to handle them.
Have the entire family participate if possible. This strengthens family ties and further bully-proofs the child who is struggling. Under no circumstances should you ever tolerate cruel teasing and provoking among your children. To do so is to allow a bully to live in your own house.
Do children with a healthy self-image ever get teased? Of course they do. Are they better able to withstand torment and testing if they are self-confident? Yes. A child who has loving support and encouragement from the family unit feels stronger for it. He or she knows whose side the home team is on—and that it’s willing to step up to the plate for him or her. In other words, he or she has some bully-proof confidence.